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Category: George Washington

Washington’s Farewell, Part 2

Washington_Hamilton_Walking_Tour_NYC
Washington_Hamilton_Walking_Tour_NYC
George Washington , Alexander Hamilton Walking Tour New York City

In this excerpt from his George Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 (co-written with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton), we can not take for granted that once again, after resigning his military commission after the American Revolution in 1783, after his second term as president, with the greatest of humility and grace, once again retires to civilian life allowing for a transfer of power.

He pays tribute to his fellow Americans for their constancy of support despite the often discouraging situations and prays for their continued “union and brotherly affection” to each other and hopes that the “sacred” Constitution, ultimately a product of the people, is sustained and preserved and looked upon as a shining example for every other nation.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Washington’s Farewell, Part 1

Washington_Hamilton_Walking_Tour_NYC

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York CityAfter George Washington decided not to pursue a third term, he began writing his farewell address to the American people.  With a text mostly by Alexander Hamilton, using Washington’s own thoughts, the Address was published in 1796.  In this quote, he declares that the peoples’ differences are not as great as their similarities and ultimately these similarities are what binds them as Americans.

Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

The Real Washington!

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

Who is the real George Washington?  What did he look like?  Here is a contemporary bust of the man himself taken from life by French portrait sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1786 at Mount Vernon (in-between the end of the Revolutionary War and his first inauguration in New York).  Houdon and three assistants spent three weeks in Virginia creating the mold of Washington’s face.  The photograph is of a 19th Century Terra Cotta copy of the bust that you can see at Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City, one of the buildings that we see on the Washington & Hamilton in New York City tour!

Wooden Teeth?

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

Contrary to very popular belief, while George Washington had false teeth and eventually dentures, none of his teeth were made of wood.  His dentures were made of lead and filled with “teeth” comprised of human teeth (including those purchased from slaves and some of his own teeth), ivory and bone that were retained by gold wire.  His first tooth was extracted when he was 24 and by the time of his inauguration he had only tooth in his gums.  Apparently he was self conscious about his dental problems and that made him less willing to speak.

 

Washington-Dentures

Not exactly something that makes you want to smile.

 

Photo from Mount Vernon

Washington Crossing the Delaware

You’ve seen the enormous 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze at least in an art book if not the real thing currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City…but have you been to the site where the crossing actually occurred?

In 1776, Washington was known for crossing rivers.  First it was the East River in New York in August 1776 escaping the British undetected with about 9000 people (which you’ll learn about on the walking tour) and then it was December on the Delaware River with about 2400 people, the prelude to a march to New Jersey the night before the Battle of Trenton.  Although Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas Night 1776, the summer is a great time to visit Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania.  There’s a visitor’s center, a historic village and a monument, but most importantly you can contemplate the daring maneuver at a very low point for Washington and his army at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Here’s the website for Washington Crossing Historic Park.

 

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Not PRECISELY where they crossed but a maker that says, Near this spot Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas Night 1776 the evening of the Battle of Trenton.

 

Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

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